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Family and Community Medicine

Department of Family and Community Medicine

The Department of Family and Community Medicine at Creighton University School of Medicine prepares future family physicians to serve as patient advocates while delivering personalized care inspired by Jesuit values. As family physicians, our role is to provide care that’s evidence-based, timely and focused on both prevention and treatment. We train some of the best and brightest doctors who stand ready to serve their patients.

We’re proud to be one of the first departments to move to the new University Campus of CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center on 24th and Cuming streets (shown above). The new facility positions us to offer an experience at the forefront of interprofessional care. 

Clinic Locations

  • CHI Creighton Health–Samson Way, Bellevue
  • CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center–University Campus
  • CHI Creighton Health–Benson
  • CHI Creighton Health–Midlands

Residency Program

The Family Medicine Residency Program gives residents the skills and expertise to succeed in any practice setting. Through work with diverse patient populations, exciting research opportunities and mentorships with seasoned clinicians, you’ll train to diagnose and treat various diseases.

What makes family medicine unique? After all, cardiologists take care of hearts, pulmonologists take care of lungs and surgeons perform operations.

But what do family physicians specialize in?

Quite simply, family physicians specialize in the “big picture.” Rather than focusing on a single organ system or a single disease, family physicians care for the patient as an individual. Studies have shown that family physicians personally manage 90% of all healthcare problems patients bring to a doctor’s office. The other 10% of conditions, family physicians treat in concert with other medical specialists.

Family physicians can also be described as personal physicians. In addition to addressing medical concerns, personal physicians serve as patient advocates, assuring that individual patient needs are met in a sometimes fragmented and confusing healthcare environment. Family physicians ensure that consultations will be obtained in a timely fashion, and that patient concerns are addressed.

Family physicians are trained to deliver care that is comprehensive, focusing on prevention as well as treatment. As healthcare costs skyrocket, family physicians provide care that is evidence-based and timely, assuring that the patient’s care is not only high quality, but also cost effective. 

Family physicians are very much a part of the greater community. Family physicians understand that concerns for a patient’s health and well-being do not end when the patient leaves the office. Rather, family physicians consider the patient’s family, work and social environment when providing care.

Currently, much is being written in the medical and lay literature about the concept of a medical home. This principle states that if each patient had a single source of coordinated care, healthcare outcomes could be improved substantially. This new proposal of a medical home is based upon the same principles that have always constituted the bedrock for family medicine. Providing community-based, comprehensive, cost-effective care that focuses on both treatment and prevention have been principles that have always defined family medicine. More recently, family physicians have also been called upon to provide leadership within their individual communities, especially in the areas of public health, safety and disaster preparedness. 

At the beginning of the 20th century, most doctors were family physicians. As medicine became more specialized, the number of medical graduates entering the field of family medicine diminished. 

Now, a hundred years later, family medicine is once again attracting some of the best and brightest new physicians. These young doctors are dedicated to providing the sort of personalized care that is the hallmark of family medicine. It is indeed gratifying to see the impact that these young men and women are having on the delivery of healthcare in our nation and our communities. They stand ready to serve their patients with the sort of personalized care that all of us deserve.

Since colonial times in the U.S., medicine has been divided into three distinct groups: the physician, the surgeon and the apothecary. Physicians were viewed as elite and usually held a university degree. Surgeons, in contrast, were typically apprenticed and hospital trained. This distinction between medicine and surgery did not survive in colonial America. Physicians in America were expected to also perform surgery and prepare medicines. This was the beginning of the general physician in the U.S.

The emergence of specialization within American medicine did not take root until the middle of the 19th century. As the base of knowledge within medicine continued to grow and many doctors chose to do more of what they were interested in and good at, specialization became inevitable. The role of the general physician remained an essential part of healthcare in the U.S., however. By the early 1900s, many states required candidates for medical licensure, including the general physician, to have a one-year internship in a hospital setting in addition to possessing a medical degree.

Following WWII, the number of specialties and subspecialists increased at a phenomenal rate, while the number of general practitioners declined dramatically. However, the public became increasingly vocal about the fragmentation of their care and the shortage of personal physicians who could provide initial, continuing and comprehensive care. The concept of the generalist was reborn with the establishment of family practice as medicine’s twentieth specialty in February 1969. Rather than training being limited to one year of postgraduate training, it was increased to three years.

    In 1970, Creighton University School of Medicine established the Family Practice Division of the Department of Preventive Medicine, headed by Dr. Michael J. Haller, MD. In August of that same year, an approved program began for training residents in family medicine. A Family Practice Clinic was opened at 3374 South 13th Street in Omaha, staffed by residents and which served not only to help alleviate the shortage of primary care physicians, but also as a developing ground for the new specialty of family practice.

    In June 1971, a “pilot program” began with Creighton interns at St. Joseph Hospital. Dr. Michael Haller, MD, established a program of airplane flight instruction for interns and residents in order to make practice in a rural community more attractive. He believed that faster mobility to larger cities would increase the desirability of rural community medicine and may help alleviate the rural physician shortage in Nebraska and other Midwestern states. Creighton was the only medical school in the country to have such a program.

    In 1973, the Division of Family Practice went on to become a department in its own right.

    During the 1970s, the Family Practice Department expanded its operations to include “model units” at three locations that simulated the structure and functioning of a private family practice office for the training of its residents.

    In 1973 the School of Medicine was one of only five medical centers nationwide to receive a $10,000 Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) planning grant from the Association of American Medical Colleges. This grant was to help determine how HMOs could relate to academic medical centers. Dr. Michael Haller of the Family Practice Department was instrumental in helping to determine the feasibility of HMOs at Creighton.

    On Dec. 11, 1977, the new St. Joseph Hospital, now known as CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center, was officially opened to the public and the former St. Joseph Hospital on 10th and Martha was closed.

      Department Chairmen

      • 1973–1977: Mike Haller, MD
      • 1977: Fred Pettid, MD
      • 1978–1981: Mike Haller, MD
      • 1984–1989: Eugene Barone, MD
      • 1989–1995: Mike Haller, MD
      • 1995–2011: Donald Frey, MD
      • 2011–2016: Laeth Nasir, MBBS
      • 2016–present: Amy McGaha, MD

      Department Program Directors

      • 1970–1978: Mike Haller, MD
      • 1978–1985: Fred Pettid, MD
      • 1985–1991: Richard Hurd, MD
      • 1991–1993: John Kuncaititis, MD
      • 1993–1997: Donald Frey, MD
      • 1997–1999: Jim Hougas, MD
      • 1999–2001: Donald Frey, MD
      • 2001–2004: Judson Jones, MD
      • 2004–2010: Thomas Hansen, MD
      • 2010–2016: Amy McGaha, MD
      • 2016–present: Michael Greene, MD